Kia Reveals More About Its Self-Driving Future

From its EV9 with “hands-off” automation to the announcement of over-the-air updates, and more, Kia has a lot planned in the coming months

Graham Hope

April 7, 2023

2 Min Read
Image shows Kia CEO Song Ho-Sung at the company's 2023 CEO Investor Day

Korean automaker Kia has revealed more about its self-driving plans at the company’s 2023 CEO Investor Day.

While the headline news was its stated aim of reaching 160 trillion Korean Won in gross revenue by 2030 – which equates to $122 billion – and selling 4.3 million vehicles annually by the end of the decade, there were also some interesting updates regarding its autonomy roadmap. 

Kia, part of the Hyundai Motor Group empire, recently revealed the EV9, a three-row electric SUV that will introduce Level 3 “hands-off” automation – via its Highway Drive Pilot (HDP) tech – on certain sections of road when it is introduced later this year.

It has now confirmed that it intends to improve the feature further in 2024 via over-the-air (OTA) updates. These will allow higher speeds for autonomous driving and increase the number of roads recognized, enabling more “eye-off,” hands-free functionality.

An enhanced version of Highway Drive Pilot (HDP2) is scheduled to arrive in 2026, and while specific details on what this might encompass were scarce, there was a promise it would use “high precision navigation” that will “strengthen” the autonomous driving capability.

One other noteworthy pledge regarding the company’s production cars was confirmation that all newly launched vehicles from 2025 onwards will benefit from connectivity to Kia’s new data cloud. This will allow customers to access an array of services and features from the Kia Connect Store, via OTA updates.

Related:Kia Confirms 'Hands-off' Self-Driving Tech in New Electric SUV

There was also more news on the automaker’s plans for Purpose Built Vehicles (PBVs). These are essentially electrified vehicles developed for specific use cases with differing degrees of autonomy. Last year Kia revealed how it was creating a PBV production hub at its existing facility in Hwaseong in Gyeonggi Province in South Korea as it aims to become a world leader in this new form of mobility.

Mass production of the factory’s first PBV is scheduled to start in 2025, and Kia confirmed at its Investor Day that it has already presented development versions to potential customers to gather feedback. It is described as “medium-sized” and “for use in a wide variety of businesses,” with the capability to accommodate various types of bodies on top of a flat, skateboard-type platform.

Once this is in production, more PBVs will follow which will include, according to Kia, “a PBV robotaxi with autonomous driving; a small PBV optimized for delivering goods or food; and a large PBV that can replace public transportation or be used as a mobile office.”

Related:Kia to Build Massive Factory for Autonomous, Electric PBVs

There was also a commitment to make investments in the Hyundai group’s Advanced Air Mobility operations and review opportunities in the last-mile mobility sector.

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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